Mixed messages on Avianca 100-seater aircraft procurement

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Airframers continue to see Avianca as a potential opportunity for a large regional aircraft order, despite comments by the airline’s chief executive that it is not looking for new aircraft in the segment.

The Colombia-based Star Alliance carrier is understood to be looking for an aircraft with around 100-seats that could replace its remaining Fokker 100s and potentially Airbus A318s and Embraer 190s.

Avianca’s chief executive Fabio Villegas denies the possibility.

“Those [the Airbus A318s] are going to stay with us for some years,” he told Flightglobal at the ALTA Airline Leaders Forum earlier in November. “We don't think we will need more aircraft in the 100-seat segment.”

The carrier and its subsidiaries, including Avianca Brazil, operate 24 A318s, 12 Embraer 190s and 12 Fokker 100s, Flightglobal’s Ascend Online database shows. The fleets have an average age of about 6.3 years, four years and 21 years, respectively.

Avianca Brazil said that it would replace its 12 Fokker 100s on a one-for-one basis with 15 A318s in 2011. However, Innovata schedules still show multiple flights operated by the Fokker 100 despite the carrier also operating 14 A318s.

Villegas said that the airline had already phased out its Fokker 100s.

Superjet tells Flightglobal that, while Avianca may not be actively pursuing a new large regional aircraft now, it will need one for its fleet over the short- to medium-term. The airframer is hoping to place its Sukhoi Superjet 100 with the airline.

“In Latin America we are working very hard with AviancaTaca, who are seriously considering renewing their fleet with a big order for regional aircraft,” said Nazario Cauceglia, chief executive of Superjet International, during an interview earlier in November. “This is the best short-term opportunity that we foresee in the Latin American market.”

Bombardier vice-president for commercial aircraft sales in the Americas Kevin Smith told Airline Business at ALTA that the Canadian airframer is also in talks with Avianca regarding a large regional aircraft order. He declined to elaborate on the status of the discussions.

Bombardier's CSeries could fit the airline's needs for a 100-seat aircraft.

Avianca ordered 15 ATR 72-600s and 15 options to replace its ATR 42s and Fokker 50 turboprops in December 2012.